Thoughts on Feldenkrais a month shy of my 40th birthday

I was walking across the Halifax commons last night, on my way to teach an ATM class.

The imminent 40th birthday is on my mind these days.

The whole thing that got me into Feldenkrais began at the age of 30. A quick shift from elation (a completed dissertation, a postdoctoral research fellowship in Toronto) to pain, and pain that lasted and lasted. At around six months you pass a magic point where what was once tendinitis becomes something else: “chronic pain.” The experience and sensations are the same, but (some) health care practitioners start to label and treat you differently. Funny thing about medical diagnosis.

At the time I would go to family gatherings and find myself with my aunts and uncles, in their 70s and 80s, swapping stories about aches and pains and medications or miracle cures. That generation really seems to believe in sharing prescription medications. If “it” works for me, then “it” will work for what you have too!

I thought to myself, “this can’t go on.” If I’m like this at 30, and I have 30-40 more years of decline ahead of me, what will life be?

Feldenkrais slowly and insidiously broke this cultural belief that aging means bit by bit getting worse. Instead, for the past ten years, every year has brought more feelings of ease and comfort in my body. Every year I feel more flexible than I did the year before. More able to do what I want to do. Every year brings less pain, less struggle, less tension. More ability to move out of and past the inevitable stresses and strains of daily life.

Walking across the commons, reflecting on the immanent 40, remembering this moment at the age of 30 when I thought “it can’t go on like this” — I realized it hadn’t gone on like that. “Improvement is endless,” Moshe used to say. And so far, it is.

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